Homaro Cantu

Homaro Cantu and the Laptop Bandit

Homaro Cantu MotoHomaro Cantu is the chef/owner of Chicago’s famous molecular gastronomy restaurant Moto.  Cantu, who was the host of Future Food on Planet Green, defeated Iron Chef Morimoto in Kitchen Stadium.  The Le Cordon Bleu Portland grad was actually homeless from the age of six to the age of nine.

In addition to his prowess with a knife, Cantu is also incredibly tech savvy.  He is an inventor who’s patented creations appear in the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum and at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.  Additionally he has been sought out by several Fortune 500 companies to assist in product R&D.

All of this is to establish that Homaro Cantu is someone you do not want to f@%k with.

For instance, about a month ago Cantu had his personal laptop swiped by some Chi-town thug.  That was a bad move.  Using state-of-the-art key logging and tracking software Cantu has been able to follow the aforementioned computer thief through cyberspace.

Though Cantu may be a genius the laptop bandit is not as he has been posting pictures of himself using the stolen computer.  And not just any pictures but photographic evidence of him committing other crimes.  I had published one of those pictures here but at the request of Chicago PD I have removed it.  As soon as they give me the all clear it’ll be back.

The punk also posted a picture of his own car in front of his own house.  In case you are unaware there is software readily available which can pretty much analyze a picture of any building in the US and tell you the address of it, not that it was needed.  Chef Homaro has been posting the pictures the wannabe gangsta has been taking on his own Facebook page so that fellow Chicagoans can help him track the perpetrator down.

Cantu has also published the record of web sites the guy has visited.  It appears he has a raging fascination (or possibly a crush) for rapper Jay Z.  He’s also a fan of “hot Latina booty.”

The chef has it within his power to alert the police at any time to end what many are calling “the laptop saga” but where’s the fun in that?  I mean, sure, that is the ultimate end game but can’t those of us civilized members of society share a laugh or two at the expense of someone who has proven they are considerably less evolved than the rest us?

Don’t miss out on all the fun.  Zip on over to Facebook and “like” Chef Homaro Cantu to watch the drama unfold live before your eyes.

Has Reality Hit Reality Food TV?

If the universe has taught us anything it’s that life is cyclical.  Greece becomes the world’s first global empire but in just a few hundred years it is replaced by Rome.  Rome lasts a few hundred years giving way to the Ottomans who then yield to Great Britain.  See what I mean?

The same is true with television programming.  Remember when westerns ruled the tube?  Of course not, if you are old enough to remember that chances are you don’t know what a blog is.  You’ve heard the names though: The Rifleman, Big Valley, Rawhide, Bonanza, Have Gun Will Travel, et al.  Every channel (all three) had several westerns.  That was followed by family sit coms, cop-buddy shows and the night-time soap opera.

The same is true for food television.  Remember when food shows featured talented chefs who taught you how to cook and actually made learning entertaining?  Then came the food contests like the original Iron Chef which was followed by Iron Chef America, Top Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, etc.

Chamed City CakesWhen Ace of Cakes hit the air back in 2006 it was a revelation of food programming.  Food Network had simply taken a camera crew to chronicle the everyday lives of the anything-but-everyday cake decorators at Baltimore’s Charm City Cakes.  It was an instant hit.  The Network tried to duplicate the magic a year later with Two Dudes Catering but the forced dialog and contrived tension between the owners did not resonate with viewers.  Though that copycat failed dozens have flourished like TLC’s Cake Boss, Planet Green’s Future Food, Private Chefs of Beverly Hills and the feel good mini-series The Chef Jeff Project.

A scant five years later and it appears this trend is petering out.  Just a few months ago Ace of Cakes wrapped it’s final show.  On March 3rd Food Network attempted to regain the glory of Ace with a new series about ice sculpting called Ice Brigade which features the same eye-popping creativity and a gaggle of cool characters headed by Chef Randy Finch.

Just before the premiere I spoke with Finch and asked him if Ice Brigade can do for ice sculpting what Ace of Cakes did for cake decorating?  He replied, “I tell you I really hope that it does.”  The ratings thus far have been fine but Ice does not appear to be creating the same buzz that Duff and the gang at Charmed City Cakes did when they first hit the airwaves.  This despite the fact that it is easily as entertaining in every way.

Also saying goodbye earlier this year was the Private Chefs of Beverly Hills, gone after just two seasons. PCOBH burst onto the scenes with a cast of chefs straight out of the pages of a fashion magazine (literally in the case of former model Manouschka Guerrier).  The blogosphere exploded with debates over whether the uber-demanding clients were real (they were) and proclamations as to who was everyone’s favorite chef.  They were the hottest caters in the nation by far.  Now PCOBH has gone its way like roman candles fizzing out.

The latest sign that the reality food show is waning is the recent premiere of SyFy’s new show Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen starring Chef Marcel Vigneron.  It would seem that a show about the hottest trend in food right now, molecular gastronomy, hosted by a Top Chef alum would be a cinch hit for a network that caters to the comic-con crowd.  After a tremendous media blitz the first episode failed to draw even one million viewers.  A paltry 600,000 according to TVbyTheNumbers.com.

Sasha Perl-RaverI asked PCOBH alum Sasha Perl-Raver her thoughts on the matter and she opined, “I think, if anything, reality cooking shows will only grow. The market is just starting to boom and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Next Great Restaurant might not be a hit, but Top Chef has spawned three spin offs, Masters, All-Stars and Just Desserts, Food Network gave birth to Cooking Channel.”

Sasha should know.  Not only did she star in a hit food reality show but she has also used her considerable connections in Hollywood to become a genuine TV trend spotter doing work as an entertainment reporter at NBC Universal and for SheKnows, LLC .  Sasha also maintains the very popular blog, Hollywood Bites.   So what’s her expert opinion?  “If anything, I think this is just the beginning.”

Sasha certainly knows her stuff.  While the numbers on behind-the-scenes reality food shows may be on the decline, reality food competitions are only becoming more popular.  Next Food Network Star is currently putting together its seventh season while Iron Chef America and Top Chef continue to capture ratings and both have generated popular spin-offs.  Chopped has gone from cult favorite to bona fide hit with this month’s special series, Chopped All-Stars which pits some of the network’s most popular chefs head-to-head for a $50,000 payday for the charity of their choice.  The numbers from the first two weeks were staggering as host Ted Allen recently revealed on his Facebook page, “Chopped All-Stars was the number one show on cable last Sunday: 6.3 million viewers!”


For more on Chopped All-Stars click HERE.

Chopped All-Stars was the number one show on cable last Sunday: 6.3 million viewers!

Review: Food Jammers

I finally got a little quality time with the Cooking Channel so I am attempting to review several of the shows I have not seen.  Time to experience Food Jammers.

Thanks, Cooking Channel, that’s 30 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.  At first I thought Food Jammers was a show about molecular gastronomy not unlike Planet Green’s Future Food which chronicles the creative process at Chicago’s Moto but it isn’t.  It should be, but it isn’t.

Food JammersFood Jammers is more like Mythbusters, no Robot Wars than a cooking show.  In fact, actual flavor is not a goal.  In one episode they decide to make a cake in the image of an old car.  Host Nobu Adilman comments, “I could care less what this cake is going to taste like.”  If you enjoy food and TV shows about food there is really no reason to watch the show.  Like Justin Bieber, this Canadian import is best left north of the border.

Here’s the gist – three slackers with a backyard full of junk try to McGyver creations that can only loosely be considered food. Or as the network’s web site puts it:

Far from the ordinary stand-and-stir cooking show, Food Jammers features a high-impact, low-fi culinary contraption conceived, designed and constructed in the Jammers’ warehouse studio. Food Jammers are artists, inventors and dudes who can really cook. Each week these three offbeat adventurers come up with a crazy scheme to rock the food world. With bold ideas, heavy machinery and a taste for the extreme, they turn up the heat and bring on the inventions. Follow along on this tasty, madcap food odyssey that’s sure to satisfy your craving for an unusual viewing adventure.

I really cannot understand why the Cooking Channel chose to air this show.  Sure hosts Adilman, Micah Donovan and Chris Martin display some amazing ingenuity for creating things but they neither create nor try to create good food.  Even if they did, I’m not sure you would want to eat it as all three apparently believe bathing should only be done in moderation.

The production value of the show is poor as lighting, cinematography and editing, like taste, are only afterthoughts.  Frankly I have seen much better work on youtube.  The animations between scenes are humorous.

Now after all this Food Jammers-bashing one might think I dislike the show but I don’t.  It is entertaining, or at least could be with a jug of cheap wine and a bag of Amsterdam’s finest.  It just isn’t a food show.  In fact it is an affront to foodism (is that a word?) and perhaps that is the point.  But since the purpose of the Cooking Channel is to appeal to the foodies who have felt alienated by Food Network’s recent direction it comes across as a slap in the face to their target audience.  After watching it I’m left wondering what Bob Tuschman was smoking when he selected Food Jammers as part of his inaugural line-up at the new network.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up


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